FG to revolutionalise mining sector – minister

The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Gbemisola Saraki, has said the ministry’s vision is to revolutionise the mining sector to attract more foreign investors.

She said the expectation of President Muhammadu Buhari for the ministry, included diversification of the economy with a target of a five per cent contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and creating an industry worth $27 billion.

The minister stated this in Abuja, during the 21st yearly general meeting of the Nigerian Society Mining Engineers (NSME), with the theme ‘Sustainable Mining in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges’.

Saraki said: “Mining operation is basically a destructive act; hence, the need for strict observance of all necessary procedures to protect the miner, the host community and the environment, while harnessing the resources beneath the earth.

“As members of the global mining community, we must put in place necessary framework in line with international best practices to promote sustainable mining in Nigeria. There are referenced standards acceptable globally like the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), which focuses on people, process and product. Other referenced global framework like Responsible Gold Mining Principles (RGMP) articulated by the World Gold Council for responsible gold sourcing, should be domesticated.”

According to her, the available record of about 1,700 abandoned mine sites as at 2020, with over 700 in Plateau State alone, speaks volume about sustainable mining in Nigeria.

“There are equally reports of unsustainable mining operations in Osun, Zamfara and other states of the federation, which we are vigorously trying to address. We must do everything within our sphere of influence and control as stakeholders to ensure that mining in Nigeria is made a sustainable business venture,” she added.

The Director-General, Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), Obadiah Nkom, noted that on November 1, 2022, online registration for application for mining leases would be launched to identify professionals in the industry.

Nkom said: “Some of you are already aware of the sensitisation going on. We intend to migrate and unveil the online system. It is already operational internally, but we hope to unveil and launch it on November 1.

“This means, as a professional, henceforth you will not have to come to the mining Cadastre; rather you sit with your phones or laptops anywhere in the world to submit your application and carry out your activities. I believe that this body is the best to be able to know that and take advantage of the sensitisation. Come and learn how it is done and ask all the questions,” he said.

In his remarks, the President of NSME, Prof. Benson Jatau, said: “If mining practice is not sanitised, the productivity and diversification of the economy would not be achieved as it is now. This is most apt and timely as the global community focuses in the direction of sustainable mining and effective utilisation of mineral resources. Nigeria, as a responsible global citizen, must key into this global agenda on mining.”